Look Inside: The New BMO Centre at Stampede Park Opens Its Doors

A Sponsored Message From Tourism Calgary

Author: David McMillin       

tall lobby with giant fireplace

After four years of construction, the newly expanded BMO Centre has reopened in Calgary.

On June 5, Calgary celebrated the official opening of the newly expanded BMO Centre at Stampede Park. And at first, it’s tempting to talk solely about the numbers — because the numbers are very big: capacity for 33,000 attendees, 350,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space, the new 50,000-square-foot Champions Ballroom, the 20,000-square-foot Percheron Ballroom, a 40,000-square-foot outdoor plaza, a 70-foot-high fireplace, 38 meeting rooms, and more.

While those statistics all add up to give the destination a new ranking — Calgary now qualifies as the largest convention destination in Western Canada — Greg Newton, executive vice president, conventions and events, and general manager at the BMO Centre, is most excited about the personal connections that these new spaces aim to inspire.

“Our grand opening celebration was very intentional in guiding more than 2,000 guests across all three levels of the center,” Newton told Convene in mid-June. “What I loved seeing happen is that people filtered back to the unique parts of the environment where they felt most at home. Some went to the terrace, while others went to the covered balcony. Some went to the opera box that overlooks The Exchange [a flexible lobby-style space], while others went to the bar. It’s a building of moments, and I was so proud to see people naturally navigate toward their moments.”

Making an Immediate Impact

For Newton, getting to the launch took many of his own moments — more than 11 years, to be exact. He has been at the BMO Centre throughout the entire process, studying the feasibility of the project, securing the funding, participating in the design, and seeing through more than three years of construction. It didn’t take that long, however, to elevate the attendee experience. Newton said the Global Energy Show, which has convened at the BMO Centre for 54 years and welcomed more than 30,000 participants in early June just after the grand opening, was able “to move in a different direction” due to the new possibilities in the expanded environment.

“A lot of dignitaries were here that might not have had an opportunity to have a meeting room of their own,” Newton said, “but we had all of our meeting rooms in action at the same time to give them the ability to present different cases. It changed the show, and I think it’s going to help push the show forward for the next 50 years.”

indoor event space in purple light

The BMO Centre at Stampede Park held its official grand opening on June 5, 2024 after a $500-million, multi-year expansion.

A ‘People-First, Program-Second’ Design

The expansion will help push Calgary forward, too. More than 100 incremental events have already booked the space, including the Rotary Convention that will welcome more than 20,000 attendees in June 2025. And while Newton is naturally thrilled about the number of meeting professionals who have already been wowed by the space and committed to bring their attendees to the city, he’s equally excited about the role that the BMO Centre will play in advancing the entire global events industry.

“This marks a turn on what venues will do,” Newton said. “Feedback from colleagues in the industry have made it clear that this will serve as an inspiration for others to create the next generation of convention centers. The space is a reflection of the difference of designing for people first and program second. Instead of solely focusing on how to make every square foot a money driver, this is about making every square foot an experience driver. There’s a hunger out there for a warmer convention environment, and that’s what this delivers.” 

To learn more about the BMO Centre and hosting your next event in Calgary, visit VisitCalgary.com

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